Red Mountain Greenery


Iron Mountain from U.S. Hwy. 550.

I was once again driving the San Juan Skyway circle of highways in the high country of southwest Colorado. I pulled over that fine late June morning for a shot of Red Mountain, named for the iron ore that colors its rocks and soil.

So which one is Red Mountain? Trick question! There are three of them up there, No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. So I’m not much help. They all look great. Especially with the spruce, fir, and aspen forests on their flanks.

While wandering the highway’s shoulder with my camera my eye was caught by a small, cold mountain stream that was passing underneath the road. Willows and bright green algae, the morning sunlight on it just right.

Mountain stream at U.S. Hwy. 550, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

Cold mountain stream and Red Mountain.


Morning sunshine, reflections, and deep, cold-water shadows.

Photo location: San Juan National Forest south of Ouray, Colorado.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Fall Colors Peak – And First Snow, Colorado

My return to the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado crossed paths with a storm front sliding through the region. Too strong of a front and the aspens stands would quickly drop their brilliant leaves. Except for those early stands that had already turned and shed theirs. So I was interested in seeing what was going to happen.

At the tiny mountain hamlet of Rico I paused for a shot from town even though it was heavily overcast. Who knows what would happen the next day? Get what you can at the time and sort it out later, is my way of working.

Rico, Colorado and peak aspen fall colors.

Rico, Colorado convenience store and peak aspen fall colors.

At Lizard Head Pass, Lizard Head Peak was once again being enveloped by playful clouds…and snow up high! First of the fall season.

Lizard Head Peak, first snow of the season.

Lizard Head Peak, first snow of the season.

Similarly, the peaks to the north of Trout Lake were shrouded with the white stuff. But not down below treelike. Not down in the aspen forests. Which was important if the colors were to continue much at all.

Looking north from Lizard Head Pass at the first snow on the peaks.

Looking north from Lizard Head Pass at the first snow on the peaks.

Down at Trout Lake, I made a shot in softly overcast light of the water reflecting some of the colors.

Trout Lake, Colorado aspen reflections.

Trout Lake, Colorado aspen reflections under overcast skies.

Then at camp between Trout Lake and Telluride, I watched the clouds come and go as dusk came on. A little rain, a little clearing, then a lot of night.

Evening mist in the mountains, Alta Lakes area.

Evening mist in the mountains, Alta Lakes area.

The next day, further north along Highway 145 I made some reflection shots in a lake just off the side of the road.

Aspen reflections, unnamed lake.

Aspen reflections, unnamed lake.

Stopping again along 145, I was enthralled by Sunshine Mountain and the highway.

Highway 145 aspen colors, south of Telluride, Colorado.

Highway 145 aspen colors and Sunshine Mountain, south of Telluride, Colorado.

The next day was quite a bit clearer, so I backtracked to Trout Lake for more shots. After all, my dream had been realized: peak aspen colors along with the first snows above treelike, in the same compositions. It doesn’t get any better.¬†Driving up the road along Trout Lake, I enjoyed a cabin surrounded by golden aspens. I fantasized that I lived there. With my four wheel drive pickup truck with tire chains for the winter, and my tall stacks of firewood that I’d cut well beforehand. My canoe put away for the winter, as well, after a fine summer of paddling and fishing on the lake.

Trout Lake cabin in the aspens.

Trout Lake cabin in the aspens.

Back out on the highway, I made another panoramic scenic of Trout Lake. The bright high clouds and the soft foreground, and the new snow on the high peaks.

Trout Lake panorama, October 7.

Trout Lake panorama, October 7.

It was late morning, and I had to go back to work the next day. What to do? Head home now, for an easy drive and evening? Or push it to get the most out of one of the most perfect fall days ever?

That will be answered in my next post.

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg